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Published: Friday, 9/5/2014

Contractor says dam removal to cost $11.5M


FREMONT — A contractor hired by the city of Fremont to study the Ballville Dam recommended its removal, though the firm anticipates a higher price tag than previously estimated.

The city on Thursday released a report by Colorado-based MWH Constructors Inc. It suggests removing the century-old Sandusky River dam instead of repairing it.

“The selection of the preferred alternative is based solely on a comparison of costs and does not reflect or consider other factors including environmental impacts as documented in various reports by others as well as the available project funding, community interest, or other factors,” the report states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ohio Department of Natural Resources previously recommended the city remove the dam gradually and build an ice-control structure. Taking it down would improve fish habitat and restore a free-flowing river, the agencies contend.

The contractor’s report, however, anticipates a removal will cost millions more than the $6 million previously indicated in an environmental study released Aug. 1 by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

MWH estimated it will cost nearly $11.5 million to remove the dam because of additional costs anticipated for building the ice-control structure as well as more than $3 million in wetlands mitigation work, according to a news release from Fremont Mayor Jim Ellis. The estimate includes planning and excavating a water intake channel into the river.

The contractor estimated it would cost $26.9 million to repair the dam.

City Council is to hear about the report and recommendation at a Sept. 18 meeting. The final decision on whether to remove the dam rests with the city.

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